Psychological Consultation to a Pediatric Oncology Unit

Obstacles to Effective Intervention
  • John E. O’Malley
  • Gerald P. Koocher


One of the basic services provided by mental health professionals in a pediatric teaching hospital is consultation to the inpatient units. Although there is ample literature concerning the emotional impact of hospitalization in children (Langford, 1961; Oremland & Oremland, 1973; Prugh et al., 1953) and models for intervention (Miller, 1973; Rotmann, 1973), there has been little focus on the obstacles to effective intervention. Schowalter (1971) discusses several problem areas in an adolescent liaison service, particularly as a result of the relationship between mental health professional and pediatrician. The child psychiatrist or psychologist may feel pressured or expected to find rapid success. The consultant often avoids communication and would rather work alone. Pediatricians, on the other hand, may be bored, confused, or threatened by such intervention. Schowalter further suggests that collaboration always involves consultation, but consultation does not always involve collaboration. He sees this as a pitfall to effective intervention. Rothenberg (1968) writes of the need of both the consultant and the person seeking consultation to give up jargon if liaison is to be maintained. Most authors suggest the need for mutual support and knowledge.


Mental Health Professional Harvard Medical School Child Psychiatry Inpatient Unit Primary Physician 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • John E. O’Malley
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gerald P. Koocher
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Children’s Hospital Medical CenterBostonUSA
  3. 3.Harvard Medical SchoolUSA
  4. 4.Sidney Färber Cancer CenterUSA

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